Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fishermen Sue Feds Over Fodder Fish

Recreational fishing groups have filed a lawsuit in the D.C. District Court challenging a decision by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to terminate a plan to protect river herring and shad in the Atlantic Ocean.

Last June, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council initiated an amendment (Amendment 15) to a fisheries management plan known as the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan to recover depleted river herring (Alewife and Blueback) and shad (American and Hickory) populations. Serious concerns had been raised by scientists, managers, fishermen, conservation groups, and other members of the public because hundreds of thousands of river herring and shad are caught and killed in the mackerel, squid and butterfish fishery without any management plan or meaningful regulatory protections. Coast wide, populations of these fish have dwindled to historically low levels. Unfortunately, in October 2013, the Council and NMFS voted to terminate development of Amendment 15 and instead voted to establish a multi-year study group designed to operate outside of the legal mandates for U.S. fisheries management.
There is such a thing as studying a problem to death.

The populations of shad and river herring in the Chesapeake system have been tracking at low levels for many years.  It's thought that land use, dams that block spawning, and commercial fishing in the ocean are all in part responsible for the decline.  The decision to postpone doing anything about it indefinitely is insane.  If you're going the let the fish populations die, just come out and be honest about it.

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